Latest Issue of Science News


News

Feather finds hint at Neandertal art

Extinct human relatives may have gotten creative with plumage

Neandertals may not have painted pictures on cave walls, but a new study proposes they had an artistic sensibility. These close Stone Age relatives of people regularly made personal and possibly ritual ornaments that included bird feathers.

Big-boned, slope-faced Neandertals shared with ancient humans a mental talent for using concrete objects — whether rock drawings or decorative feathers — to represent abstract ideas and beliefs, say evolutionary ecologist Clive Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum and his colleagues.

Neandertals took a fancy to feathers on their own, several thousand years before encountering Stone Age people who also adorned themselves with plumage, the researchers contend in a paper published online September 17 in PLoS ONE.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

X
This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.